The Top Ski Resorts in Finland

Finland has a number of great spots for downhill skiing and snowboarding as well as an abundance of cross-country skiing trails
Finland has a number of great spots for downhill skiing and snowboarding as well as an abundance of cross-country skiing trails | © NordicImages / Alamy Stock Photo
Jessica Wood

While Finland is largely a flat country, there are nearly 100 ski resorts to visit, most located in Lapland within the Arctic Circle. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are available, plus there are hundreds of acres of maintained cross-country ski tracks. These are some of the best resorts throughout Finland not only for skiing, but also for family holidays and other winter activities – such as husky sledding, ice skating and spotting the Northern Lights.

Levi

One of Finland’s largest, best-rated and most popular resorts, Levi has 43 slopes, covering 43 kilometres (27mi) of skiable terrain, alongside 230km (143mi) of cross-country ski tracks. The village is lively during the holiday season, plus there is a range of accommodation, including log cabins and glass igloos where you can watch the Northern Lights. Park lovers will enjoy hitting the jumps on the 1km South Park and the halfpipe in the Street Park on the front slopes. Levi is only a few minutes away from the local airport, Kittila. Just a note: the ski area doesn’t fully open until February when the daylight hours increase enough.

Ruka

Ruka is often considered one of the best ski resorts in the Nordics, home to eight World Cup contests every November/December. If it’s good enough for the pros, it is certainly good enough for us. With 22 lifts and 35 slopes, it is a popular ski resort, set in a pristine Finnish landscape. Snow lasts for 200 days each year; the season starts in early October and lasts until May. Don’t miss their legendary Spring Break festival and Wappalounas, a snowboarder jam session with live music on the pistes.

Iso-Syöte

Tucked away in Syöte National Park, you’ll find the ski resort of Iso-Syöte, voted Finland’s best ski resort for 2017 and 2018 by the World Snow Awards. With 17 slopes and 10 lifts, it is known for being incredibly snow-sure and family-friendly. The children’s Snow World has four slopes and four lifts, created especially for kids to learn on. Off the pistes, you can try snowshoeing and husky tours, or pet reindeer and roast sausages over an open fire, Finnish-style.

Ounasvaara

Close to Pyhä, you will find the ski resort of Ounasvaara, located almost in the centre of the city of Rovaniemi. The main slopes are good for beginners, while intermediate and advanced skiers should head to Tottorakka’s FIS-slope (no 3) for the international-level slalom course. Little kids will love tubing (sliding down a hill in a rubber ring) at Snow World. Ounasvaara is a slightly smaller ski resort of only five lifts and 13 slopes, but you can squeeze in a ski alongside visiting Santa Claus Village and spotting polar bears and snowy owls at Ranua Zoo.

Saariselkä

The northernmost resort in Finland near the city of Inari, Saariselkä has a total of 15 ski slopes and 200km (124mi) of cross-country trails. Perched as the gateway to the Urho Kekkonen National Park, Saariselkä has a wildness to it – it’s certainly less crowded than many other Lapland resorts. Ice fishing, snowmobiling and Northern Lights spotting are popular here, alongside skiing. Despite its remote location, the resort still has a lot of amenities and entertainment, including jazz and blues music festivals.

Pyhä

A short drive from the Lapland capital Rovaniemi, Pyhä is easily accessible from Santa’s official home town. It has a real back-to-nature vibe, being in this remote part of the country. The ski resorts itself contains nine lifts and 14 slopes, the longest of which is 1.8km (1.1mi), while the surrounding Pyhä-Luosto National Park is connected through 150km (93mi) of cross-country ski tracks. There is also an amethyst mine nearby, the only one in the world open to visitors, and restaurants serving traditional Lappish food.

Vuokatti

Vuokatti’s location on the border of the Arctic Lakeland and Lapland makes it one of the most popular winter resorts. While downhill skiing is limited, it is cross-country heaven with more than 150km (93mi) of groomed tracks. Their unique Ski Tunnel means you can ski year-round, as it’s kept permanently between -5C and -9C (23F and 16F). Olympic cross-country and biathlon athletes train here. Additionally, you can go snowmobiling, on a husky safari and visit a reindeer farm.

Ylläs

Possibly the most scenic of all of Finland’s resorts, Ylläs has one of the largest ski areas in the country. At 719m (2,359ft) above sea level, it is home to 63 slopes, including the longest slope in Finland, Jättipitkä, at 3km (1.9mi). The runs are mostly suited to beginners and intermediates, but there is extensive off-piste for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Cross-country aficionados will enjoy 330km (205mi) of trails, plus there is ice fishing, snowmobile rides, reindeer spotting and dog sledding on offer. Back in town, you’ll find a decent array of Nordic restaurants with traditional Lappish cuisine.

Tahko

Overlooking a sparkling lake, Tahko is located in central Finland, with a slightly shorter season than the more northerly ski resorts (December to March). The 24 slopes are mostly beginner-friendly with little steep terrain to spark the interest of advanced riders. Freestyle lovers can head to the park to hit Tahko’s rails and boxes. There are five restaurants on the slopes, plus two rental shops. Stop at one of the free campfire spots, complete with firewood, to cook some food and warm up.

Salla

“In the middle of nowhere” is this Finnish ski resort’s tagline, due to the fact that 90% of the region is uninhabited. Salla has been home to downhill ski and slalom competitions since 1937. Amazingly, the world’s oldest ski was found here, dating back to 3,245 BCE. Now, it is home to 15 slopes including a good mixture of greens and blues for beginners, and reds and black runs for advanced riders. It’s very family-friendly with a brand new magic carpet and toboggan slope.

Messilä

Just 10km (6mi) from Lahti and 110km (68mi) from Helsinki, Messilä is one of the most popular ski resorts in southern Finland. Unlike the north, it doesn’t suffer from the same extreme cold – in January and February, the average temperature is about -6C (21F). Located in the grounds of a beautiful historic manor, Messilä has 10 slopes and 9 lifts, plus a snow park and 70km (43mi) of cross-country skiing. There’s also a direct bus transfer service from Helsinki on Thursdays to Saturdays during the winter season, so getting to the slopes couldn’t be easier.

Himos

Himos in Jyväskylä, central Finland, is more of a beginner’s resort with mostly small, gentle slopes. It’s a great place to learn before progressing to bigger slopes with more advanced terrain. There are 21 slopes, and they all meet down back near the main village, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. All the slopes are illuminated, so even in the dark winter days, you can ski the entire mountain. In addition, you can go on a moose safari or try some ice swimming or curling, and there are tonnes of children’s activities.

Additional reporting by Nina Zietman.

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